Photography is a powerful medium of expression, communication, and art. It can capture the beauty, horror, joy, sorrow, reality, and fantasy of the world. Some photographers aim to document and represent reality as faithfully as possible, while others seek to transform and transcend it. One of the latter is Olga Karlovac, a self-taught photographer with a distinctive and expressive style of photography. In this essay, I will explore her work, style, and vision and show how she captures the poetry of the streets, the beauty of the darkness, and the magic of the rain.
Ms Karlovac was born in Dubrovnik, Croatia, and now lives and works in Zagreb. After becoming disillusioned with her career as an economist, she started photography as a hobby. She found photography to be a creative outlet and a way of expressing herself. She has no formal training in photography, and she prefers to experiment and learn by doing. She does not follow any rules or conventions or use any post-processing or editing software. She relies on her intuition and her vision to create her images. She describes her approach: “I don’t think about the technical aspects of photography. I feel the moment and press the shutter. I don’t plan anything. I wander around the streets and let the city surprise me. I don’t look for anything. I find it.”
Her images are abstract, blurry, and high-contrast, creating a sense of mystery and drama. She captures the fleeting moments and emotions of the urban environment with her camera, often in dark and rainy conditions. She uses natural light, reflections, shadows, and motion to create her compositions. She does not focus on the details but on the atmosphere and the mood. She does not show the faces but the gestures and the movements. She does not name the places but the feelings and the impressions. She invites the viewer into a dreamlike world, where the familiar becomes unfamiliar, and reality and imagination blur.
Ms Karlovac has published three self-published photobooks, which have received critical acclaim and international recognition. Her first book, Before Winter, was published in 2015 and features images of Zagreb in Winter. The book is a tribute to her hometown and reflects her state of mind. She says: “I wanted to capture the essence of Zagreb, its soul, spirit, and melancholy. I wanted to show the beauty of the cold, the silence, the loneliness. I wanted to express my feelings of nostalgia, sadness, and hope.” The book is divided into four chapters, each representing a different aspect of the city: the streets, the buildings, the people, and the nature. Poetic texts written by Karlovac accompany the images, adding another layer of meaning and expression.
Her second book, The Disarray, was published in 2017 and features images of various European cities, such as London, Paris, Berlin, and Venice. The book is a result of her travels and an exploration of the diversity and complexity of the urban landscape. She says: “I wanted to capture the chaos, the disorder, the confusion of the cities. I wanted to show the contrast, the tension, the conflict between the old and the new, the rich and the poor, the beautiful and the ugly. I wanted to express my curiosity, excitement, and anxiety.” The book is divided into six chapters, each representing a different theme: the light, the water, the bridges, the walls, the windows, and the doors. The images are accompanied by quotes from famous writers, philosophers, and artists, adding another layer of context and inspiration.
Her third book, Escape, was published in 2019 and features images of Dubrovnik, her hometown. The book is a return to her roots and an escape from the reality and the pressures of the modern world. She says: “I wanted to capture the peace, the harmony, the serenity of Dubrovnik. I wanted to show the city’s beauty, history, the culture of the city. I wanted to express my feelings of love, gratitude, and joy.” The book is divided into five chapters, each representing a different element: the earth, the fire, the air, the water, and the spirit. The images are accompanied by lyrics from songs by her favourite musicians, adding another layer of emotion and expression.
Ms Karlovac has also exhibited her work in various worldwide galleries and venues, such as Saatchi Gallery, ECAD Gallery, Project Space in London, and Agora Gallery in New York. Her photography has been featured in many magazines, including Black+White Photography, Inspired Eye, FRAMES, and others. Many photographers and critics have also interviewed and praised her, such as Richard Koci Hernandez, W. Scott Olsen, Robin Titchener, and Mike von Joel. They have described her work as “stunning,” “mesmerizing,” “haunting,” “powerful,” and “original”.
Ms Karlovac is working on her next book, which will continue her abstract expressionist style. She also offers online tutorials to share her experience and knowledge of shooting, producing, and marketing photobooks. She inspires aspiring and established photographers who admire her unique and original vision.
In conclusion, Olga Karlovac is a photographer who does not seek to document or represent reality but to transform and transcend it. She uses her camera as a tool to create art, to express her feelings, and to communicate with the viewer. She is a photographer who captures the streets’ poetry, the darkness’s beauty, and the rain’s magic. She is a photographer who challenges the conventions and expectations of photography and creates her visual language and style. She is a photographer who deserves to be recognized and celebrated for her work, her style, and her vision.